Court rules Texas voter ID law violates Voting Rights Act

The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled Wednesday that Texas’ voter-ID law, “violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act through its discriminatory effects.”

The case was sent back to Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos in Corpus Christi, TX, for “proper remedy.”

The ruling temporarily keeps the Lone Star State’s strict requirement of a state or federally issued ID in place, although it is unclear how Ramos will proceed from here. Currently, college student and government employee ID cards are not valid at Texas voting polls, but driver’s licenses, passports, military ID’s, and concealed weapon carry licenses are acceptable.

Plaintiffs in the case, which includes the U.S. Attorney General, argued that over 600,000 registered voters in the state are effectively unable to vote because they don’t possess the proper credentials.

Petitioners also claimed that the ID requirements acted as a ‘poll tax’ because the state of Texas charged fees to individuals for verifying documentation before issuing election ID cards for free.

The Appeals Court rejected that argument, which was originally upheld by Judge Ramos, as it found that the evidence amounted to “speculation by the bill’s opponents about proponents’ motives”.

Despite strong opposition from Democrats and civil libertarians, Texas’ new governor, Gregg Abbott, is holding fast to the voter-ID requirement which was signed into law four years ago by current GOP presidential contender Rick Perry.

“In light of ongoing voter fraud, it is imperative that Texas has a voter ID law that prevents cheating at the ballot box,” Abbott said in a statement.

Civil rights groups, like the ACLU which filed an amicus brief in the case, do not agree that election fraud is a problem and instead accuse conservative legislatures of trying to suppress voter turnout.

An attorney for ACLU’s Voting Rights Project framed the case by saying, “It is fitting for the court to recognize that laws that deliberately make it harder for black and Latino Americans to vote have no place in our democracy.”

The outcome of the case now hinges on Judge Ramos being able to find more substantial evidence of the Texas legislatures ulterior motives, if any, in making voters show a proper photo-ID.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has stated that in the three elections which have been held since the ID law went into affect, no voters have been disenfranchised.

[Bloomberg] [Reuters]